NIOSH Center for Workers' Compensation Studies (CWCS)

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is currently funding workers’ compensation surveillance cooperative agreements with five states, including California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan. The purpose of these cooperative agreements is to compile, analyze, and disseminate workers’ compensation (WC) claims data to promote the prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses, fatalities, and exposures to hazards within the states and throughout the nation. The WC Surveillance Cooperative Agreements provide state health and state WC agencies and other eligible organizations and businesses the resources to initiate or expand state-based WC surveillance and intervention activities.

In 2010, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OHBWC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed a formal partnership to protect Ohio workers from work-related injury and illness. Main goals were to 1) improve injury and illness prevention based on Ohio’s employer and employee needs and workers’ compensation (WC) data, 2) evaluate effectiveness of OHBWC-supported safety-health interventions and programs, and 3) disseminate industry specific best-practices based on scientific research.

This partnership is having direct impact. For example, since 1999 OHBWC has offered a Safety Intervention Grant (SIG) program where employers are provided matching funds to implement engineering controls. Recently, OHBWC and NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation (CWCS) studies (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25223846External) found that the program significantly reduced affected employee claims and costs and OHBWC greatly expanded the annual budget. In 2014, the SIG program provided $15 million to 535 employers and OHBWC allocated an additional $45 million for fiscal years 2015-17. Other states are now offering similar safety grant programs.

OHBWC and NIOSH have also published a series of studies that represent significant advances in WC claims research. This includes developing computer programs to auto-code free text WC claims for basic causation (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23206504External) and detailed causation (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26745274External). These programs are continuously improved and actively shared with external stakeholders. Other recent partnership WC claim studies demonstrated that a large state dataset of >1.2 million claims could be linked to external employment data to examine overall claims trends among state-insured private employers (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27667651External) and determined that machine learning techniques could be used to identify ergonomic and safety priorities within many specific industries (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28953071External). A main purpose of these and upcoming claims analyses are to produce information that OHBWC insured employers can use to benchmark their safety and health performance versus industry peers and develop data-driven plans for prevention. OHBWC and researchers also use these data to understand industry risk trends and tailor safety, health, and disability management services to efficiently allocate resources. The overall goals are to protect workers, and reduce the frequency and cost of work-related injuries and illnesses in Ohio. For more information on these studies or to request the claims auto-coding programs, please contact cwcs@cdc.gov.

Page last reviewed: March 16, 2018